With Niseko being the top snow resort for skiing and snowboarding in Hokkaido, there are a good amount of bus timings between the Sapporo Chitose Airport and Niseko during the winter season.
What about Chitose airport to Niseko by train?
It also is an option to get to Niseko by train.
There is a JR Niseko station, but coming from the airport, the train will only get you to the JR Kutchan station, so you’ll want to make your way to Kutchan.
It will require a train transfer, and taking the train from Chitose airport to Niseko will look something like this:
- Train from Chitose airport to Otaru
- Train from Otaru to Kutchan
The train journey from start to finish might take around 3 hours. (Not including delays due to snow and weather!)
The cost of this train ride will likely be around 3,200 yen (US$30).
If you’ll be traveling with a JR pass or JR Hokkaido pass, it’ll be possible to get to Kutchan by taking the JR lines, so it will be FREE!
From Kutchan, there’s a train or bus that can take you to Niseko for around 300-400 yen (US$3-4).
Your Niseko hotel may also offer a shuttle from Kutchan station.
For comfort though, bus could be the better option when you’re coming from the airport, especially if you’re traveling with large luggage.
About taking the bus to Niseko!
Do you need to make bus reservations ahead of time?
You do need to buy a ticket before you get on the bus.
But it IS possible to buy tickets at the airport.
That said, it’s recommended that you do book your bus ticket ahead of time, especially if you’ll be traveling during peak season.
But if you don’t make reservations in advance, you can try your luck at the airport.
You’ll have a few bus companies to choose from, and if all else fails, you can take the train. (Although train timings aren’t highly frequent, it will likely work out if you are arriving during the day.)
I took a bus from Chitose airport to Niseko and I didn’t book in advance.
I was able to get a ticket when I showed up at the airport, but I was traveling towards the end of the season. (End of March.)
I asked about high season, and I was told that the 1pm and 2pm hours are generally the most busy.
So if your flight is set to arrive in the afternoon and you’re headed to Niseko in January or February, it’s probably a good idea to book ahead of time!
What happens if your flight gets delayed?!
Flight delays are always a possibility, and they can be an even greater possibility when you’re flying in winter with weather-related delays!
When you’re booking your ticket in advance, it’ll be a good idea to check the clause for details.
What I’ve seen is that if your flight is delayed causing you to miss the bus, then they will put you on the next available bus. If no bus is available, a refund will be provided.
But again, see what the policy is for the bus you’ll be taking!
How much time do you need after your flight to catch the bus?
It’s also recommended that you book your bus ticket no less than 45 minutes after your flight’s schedule arrival for domestic flights, and no less than 1 hour for international flights. (But check the bus you’re going with to see their recommendations.)
But the more time you give yourself between the time you land and the time of your scheduled bus departure, the less stressful it can be too!
And, there is a “shopping world” at the airport that you can waste time at if needed. 😉
This is outside the secure area so anyone can go to this.
You can get your souvenir shopping started early, and there’s also a bunch of restaurants here too.
How much does it cost for a bus to Niseko from the airport?!
This is based on what I found when I was looking to get to Niseko.
So there may be other options, but I think this covers the basics.
On the low end, the bus to Niseko seems to be 2,600 yen.
For the other Niseko-bound ski buses, 4,000 yen seems to be the standard.
You can see the scheduled timings by going to the bus company websites, and that will also show you how long each bus takes to get to Niseko.
Some buses also go to the Rusutsu ski resort as well, which is kind of on the way to Niseko.
Also if you are looking for private shuttle transfers to Niseko:
How do you get to the bus once you’re at Chitose Airport?!
So you’ve made it to Hokkaido!
Once you get past baggage claim…
It will be best to make your first stop the information desk.
They will be able to direct you to the right place based on your bus company of choice. (Or the general area if you haven’t booked your bus ticket yet.)
The arrivals area kind of stretches across a long area, and depending on which gate you arrive at, you may have to go outside in order to get to the bus counter.
It’s really not difficult, but the directions will make sense once they are explained to you when you are there!
There are also a few different “bus counters” so you don’t necessarily want to go to the first one you see.
Chuo bus counter (red)
White liner bus counter (blue)
Hokkaido Resort Liner bus counter (orange)
So once you have located your bus company’s counter, you’ll check in.
Then you’ll be given further directions on what to do.
I was given instructions to go over to the waiting area.
And then from there, you will soon be on a bus to Niseko!
You’ll be riding alongside a big lake for a little bit. (That’s Lake Shikotsu.)
Then about an hour in, there was a 10 minute break on my bus ride. (There’s no toilet on the bus.)
You won’t have time to sit and eat, but it’s a place you can grab some snacks to-go!
And then you’ll start to see a glimpse of Mount Yotei!
And then finally…
Arrival in Niseko!
HAPPY BUS RIDE FROM SAPPORO AIRPORT TO NISEKO!
How to spend winter in Japan
More quick tips for planning your trip to JapanThere are affiliate links on this page that take you to partner websites.
Among the top 3 things people get specific for a trip to Japan
- JR pass for quick and easy long distance train travel (see price here and see here how to calculate train routes to figure out it's worth it for you)
- Pocket wifi to make travel in Japan easier (see price here)
- Travel insurance for natural disasters just in case especially for travel disruptions (see price here and see here for past natural disaster that affected foreigners)
Food in JapanIf you are in Japan for FOOD, then be sure to see where to try different types of Japanese food! (Sometimes for cheaper!)
And also have a look at some of these cooking classes in Japan too.
If you're looking for a route for winter in Japan, here are some ideas!
- 10 day Japan winter itinerary
- Tokyo to Nagano bus
- 2 days in Nagano with snow monkey pass // Stay at this Nagano hostel (private rooms available)
- A few days in popular ski resort area Hakuba (go here for at least a day even if you don't ski for the winter landscape in the mountains!) // Stay at this Hakuba hostel (private rooms available)
- Hakuba to Takayama (Hakuba to Matsumoto train / a few hours in Matsumoto / Matsumoto to Takayama bus)
- A few days in Takayama with day trips: Shirakawago / Shinhotaka ropeway on a sunny day // Stay at this Takayama hostel (private rooms available) and eat regional Takayama ramen
- Takayama back to Tokyo OR Takayama to Nagoya airport to fly to Hokkaido for more winter landscapes!
Hokkaido winter itinerary (train to get around - there are JR Hokkaido passes available, and you can use a regular JR pass too)
- Sapporo to Asahikawa (Asahikawa for penguin walk at zoo)
- Asahikawa to Abashiri (Abashiri for drift ice cruise)
- Abashiri to Obihiro (night in Obihiro and go to Lake Shikaribetsu ice village the next day)
- Obihiro to Sapporo
- Sapporo to Noboribetsu onsen hot spring town (day trip)
- Sapporo to Hakodate // Stay in this Hakodate hostel
- Hakodate to Tokyo on shinkansen bullet train through the underwater tunnel! (Regular JR pass will be worth it if you take this train ride along with one more long distance train ride within 7 days)
When the JR pass is worth itIn general, 2 long-distance shinkansen train trips will likely end up making it so the JR pass will be worth it. But here's how to calculate it to be sure. See the current price of a JR pass from an official vendor.
Natural disasters in JapanUnfortunately, Japan can be prone to natural disasters which means risk for travel delays. So be sure to look at travel insurance for natural disasters.
My travel insurance took care of my accommodation and food costs when I was forced to stay extra days in Japan because of a typhoon. There have been a few typhoons that have hit Japan in the past couple of years and they can cause real travel disruptions!
See how much insurance costs for your trip.
More for your Japan itinerary
- 5 days in Kyoto
- Cost of climbing Mt Fuji from Tokyo
- Where to go for famous Mt Fuji views as seen in pictures
- Know before you go to Hiroshima
- One day in Miyajima with famous floating torii views
- 3 days in Okinawa, Japan's tropical islands
- Cherry blossom photo walk
- When is the JR pass worth it for train travel?
- Tokyo to Kyoto train
- Hostels in Japan